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Summer Foraging Recipe: Elderberry-Blueberry Jam with Chia Seeds

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In the woodland valleys of Central California, Elderflower trees have been in bloom all spring with their prolific, lacy white blossoms.  I've enjoyed making Elderflower syrup, candied elderflowers and sweet Elderflower Tempura.  A few days ago, I noticed that some of the trees are starting to bear fruit -- diminutive, tart little berries, deep purplish-blue growing in heavy clusters.  

Inspired by a love of biscuits and jam, foraging, and adapted from a recipe from Simply Beyond Herbs, I whipped up a simple and delicious jam made from the foraged Elderberries, fresh blueberries and using chia seeds for a perfect jammy consistency.

Enjoy and Happy Foraging!
PrintWith ImageWithout Image Elderberry-Blueberry Chia JamYield: One half-pint jarAuthor: Jenn Erickson Prep time: 10 MCook time: 10 MTotal time: 20 M An easy and delicious sweet-tart jam to make from foraged Elderberries. Ingredients:1 1/2 cups elderberries, rinsedPinch of salt1 cup blueberries, rinsed2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds1/2 Tabl…

REBORN ~ the rise and fall of the Marzipan Baby ~ and a DIY for making your own SUGAR BABIES at home

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DO YOU REMEMBER THESE GUYS?  A few years ago, the "MARZIPAN BABIES" had their 15-minutes of fame on the email circuit when someone concocted a story that these incredibly real-looking miniature babies were sculpted out of marzipan.  I was forwarded this incredible story a few times, but never ceased to be amazed and dazzled by the realism and detail of these miniature miracles! The story was later revealed to be a hoax.  The truth of the matter is that the babies were made of polymer clay (no less impressive) by artist Camille Allen (who was NOT responsible for the erroneous claims). 
I've always thought that the "marzipan babies", regardless of their original material, would be a fantastic challenge to try to recreate as baby shower cupcake toppers.  The problem rests in the fact that the level of detail required for these marvelous creations would simply take too much time to reproduce sufficient quantity for a special event.  I recently had the opportunity t…

SAVE THE WHALES ~ The care and naming of your bathtub whale ~ and an appeal to the President from "MY BOY THURSDAY"

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I am the proud mother of two delightful, exuberant, creative little girls. As the oldest child and only girl in a family of four, this was everything I ever wished for growing up. Now that our youngest is five ("graduating" preschool tomorrow as a matter of fact) my husband and I are happy to have diapers, 3 a.m. feedings, and bulky baby accessories behind us. We've decided that "we're done." Every once in a while though, especially when I hold a baby, I get that little pang of doubt. And every so often I think about the fact that my husband's family name stops here, since we have no sons. Then a friend's toddler throws the tantrum of the century in a quiet store where we're browsing, and I thank heaven the terrible twos, threes and fours are in my past! Today my 8-year old daughter's friend offered to carry my groceries into the house. Yes, I'm enjoying this older kid thing!


For the past several weeks, I've had the pleasure of having…

CREAMED LIFE IN A BASKET CASE ~ OR, THE WOES OF THE MODERN MAMA

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(to view a full-screen version and take in all kitchy character of this period piece, click HERE)

ARE YOU FEELING A DRASTIC TIP IN THE SCALES IN YOUR LIFE'S BALANCING ACT?

IT SEEMS, THIS MONTH, THAT EVERYONE IS BUSIER AND MORE OVER COMMITTED THAN EVER.
And yet, while dusting off some old cookbooks in my collection this week, I came across this section of "The Modern Hostess Cook Book for this Season" from 1939, and was startled with the realization that my plight is nothing new. Our grandmothers struggled with the same trials in having to finesse more than 24 hours of work into a 16 hour day, 7 days a week! The challenge of finding new ways to be more efficient with our time is not merely a symptom of our modern cyber age!
In 1939, one way that modern women found a solution to their balancing act was to use prepared and prepackaged foods. A marvel! A boon! "Hallelujah, it's Creamed Beef in a Bread Case! Now, we find ourselves swept up (thank heavens) in a movement …

A SHOUT OUT TO MY "PEEPS" AND SOME SPECIAL CHICKS

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Yeah, I know "Jack".  Not "Jack be nimble", nor "Jack of all trades"; not the Jack who was so uncoordinated that he couldn't make it down the hill with pail of water without a serious head injury, nor "Jack Sprat", that lean-meat lovin', "Pimpin' it Plus Size" t-shirt wearin' guy either.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." Now that's him!  Simply put, I've suddenly found myself with so many "Must-dos" and "To-dos" that there's simply no time for fun and leisure.  Baking, Caking, Crafting, Writing, and all have fallen behind the sofa, have shriveled and nestled into the warm embrace of the resident dust bunnies, and will perhaps someday be found when I have the time to clean back there.  I will probably find them along with a few of my husband's socks, a candy wrapper, a coin or two, and a mauled dog toy.  When I do, I'm sure they'll resemble a 'Craisin&#…

THE ROMANCE IS OVER ~ in which Duran Duran, St. Patrick, teen heartthrobs and the French Catacombs unite for a common cause ~ IRISH SODA BREAD

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Many moons ago, in a time best left buried admist the other scrap and rabble of my youth, I worked for a brief spell at an Irish pub. It was largely a lesson in humility, for reasons I won't delve into here (but I will tell you that the uniform involved a kelly green bow tie and hideously unflattering shorts of the same color). The one good memory of the place is that of their Irish Soda Bread. It was baked fresh every day in the restaurant's enormous basement kitchen. The sweet, toasty, nutty perfume that wafted from the kitchen and through the catacomb-like hallways was the only thing that kept me from succumbing to the heebie jeebies that the subterranean parts of this old building conjured.

The bread was nothing much to look at. It was a humble, round loaf; light brown and a little powdery. But one bite, and everyone was hooked. This deceptively simple looking bread possessed an uncanny complexity -- a slight sweetness offset by the salty bite of the baking soda; the nutti…

ST. PATRICK'S DAY CUPCAKE TOPPER DIY, and the curse of the nefarious leprechaun

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THE CURSE OF THE NEFARIOUS LEPRECHAUN
He's back!  You probably already know him.  He's the one that sideswipes your car, knocking off your side mirror and keeps on driving. He's the guy who lets his dog do his business on your lawn and never picks it up, fills the public toilet with those paper seat covers, pours the last cup of coffee in the staff room, but lets the pot sit there empty to smolder and burn...sound familiar?  If you're a blogger, and have taken the advice of your well-meaning peers and removed "word-verification" from your blog, you've probably had a run in with this malicious little imp -- calls himself "Anonymous" and loves to wreak havoc with your work by placing all kinds of wacky ads and nonsense in the comment field throughout your blog.  Argh!  


Recently, this slippery little dickens decided  to take advantage of my absence by bestowing me with not one or two, but dozens of his crafty little witticisms all over my blog.  Ahh…

WHEN GOOD BANANAS GO BAD... THE ADVENT OF BANANA BREAD BISCOTTI

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What do you do when a good banana goes bad?  In my house, the solution typically comes in the form of banana bread.   But due to the fact that my family suffers under the delusion that eating any of the final three bananas in any given bunch is punishable by death, we have grown rather bored by the ever-present banana bread.   I had saved a recipe a while back for banana biscotti, thinking that it would be another good way to reform bananas gone bad, but alas when I pulled it up I found that it called for banana bread mix.  Heavens!  So, my little chef protege and I  donned our aprons and inventing caps and came up with a marvelous recipe of our own that is simple and yields professional looking results.   It keeps for several weeks if stored in an airtight container.  Enjoy!
Rook No. 17's Banana Bread Biscotti makes approx. 3 dozen
5 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 overripe bananas
3 Tablespoons canola…

HOE! HOE! HOE! HOW TO CELEBRATE PRESIDENTS' DAY

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One of the things that brings me the greatest joy is being able to use my creativity to create special and magical little moments for the people I care about ~ transforming the ordinary and sometimes mundane moments of life into something that shimmers!  Many of us long for "a life less ordinary", but find that commercialism has narrowed our focus to a few favored holidays.  In reality, almost every day is a day being celebrated somewhere in the world.  What better opportunity to learn about the people with whom we share our globe, than by acquainting ourselves with the unique ways that they express joy and celebrate life?
I started this blog, partly out of a desire to share my new traditions and revamped customs with a greater audience.  While continuing to offer original recipes, crafts and tutorials, I hope to provide a more cohesive direction for Rook No. 17 in the months to come ~ with an emphasis on simple, yet profound ways to create everyday magic.

Chances are, if you&…

FRIDAY FOLLOW ~ WELCOME!

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If you're stopping by from Friday Follow, Welcome! And if not, well, you're very WELCOME too!  I hope you enjoy your visit.

If you like to get creative in the kitchen, stop by the "RECIPES" "CULINARY RESOURCES" and "CULINARY TIPS" section of the "Bill of Fare" on the right side-bar (The nav bar on top isn't quite finished yet).

If crafting is more your style, check out "CLIPART AND GRAPHICS", "CREATIVE THINGS TO DO", "TUTORIALS", AND "CREATIVE RESOURCES".

Interested in learning some Chocolatiering?  Visit the "WONKATEERS" link!

If eclectic, edgy, and cosmopolitan music (the likes of Carla Bruni, The Hush Sound, Edith Piaff, and the Shins) is to your liking, click the playlist on the right.

I look forward to returning the visit!  Have a wonderful weekend!



LOVE IS IN THE AIR ~ FREE VINTAGE VALENTINES PROJECTS, CARDS AND GRAPHICS

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"Love grows bygiving
The love we give away is the only love we keep. 
The only way to retain love is to give it away.
~ Elbert Hubbard, American writer


How will you be showing your love this Valentines Day?
Like a box of Valentines Chocolates,  today's post is a mixed collection of sweet treats for you: Three Vintage Valentine Card print-cut-and fold PDFs A Treat Box TemplateValentine Cupcake Topper PDFFrom my personal archives, I've pulled some charming Valentine postcards for you to use in collage, decoupage, scrapbooking, card-making, etc.
To make this 3D Valentine Card, download it HERE and print on cardstock.

To download and print these cute retro Valentines, click HERE.

To make these Valentine Treat Boxes, download this template.  Print it out "as-is" for a pink box, or print, cut and use as a pattern on your own special paper.  You can trace four boxes on a single sheet of scrapbook stock. Embellish with vintage ephemera, ribbons, and glitter and finish with a …